- Great news for people with Parkinson’s disease. The Guardian UK reports :
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice disappeared when their brains were stimulated via spinal electrodes
A ground-breaking medical device that eliminates the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by electrically stimulating the brain could be tested in humans as early as next year, according to scientists working on the project.
The device has produced dramatic improvements in mice with a Parkinson’s-like disease, raising hopes that it could transform the lives of the four million people worldwide who have the devastating condition.
In tests, mice that suffered constant tremors and were barely able to walk because of the disease started moving around, groomed themselves and began eating and drinking normally when the device was switched on.
“If we see the same effect in people as we see in rodents, then Parkinson’s patients will be able to walk and move around the way they could before the disease came on. This could lead to a very dramatic improvement in their quality of life,” said Miguel Nicolelis, the neuroscientist who led the study at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Nicolelis is one of the world’s leading researchers on “brain-machine interfaces”. In recent years, he has developed brain implants that can read people’s thoughts, allowing them to move cursors on a screen and even use artificial limbs. Such devices are expected to lead to a new generation of mind-controlled prosthetics for the severely disabled.
Nicolelis’s research suggests it may be possible to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease more easily, and with less drastic surgery, by sending electrical pulses along spinal cord nerves and into the brain. The stimulation would cause a tingling sensation, Nicolelis told the Guardian, but the brain would soon adapt to this, in the same way we become used to having clothes rubbing against our skin.
The team is now testing the technique at a lab in Brazil to see if it works in primates. If the experiments are successful, the device could be cleared for clinical trials in humans next year.
“If we can demonstrate that the device is safe and effective over the long term in primates and then humans, virtually every patient could be eligible for this treatment in the near future,” Nicolelis said.
Dr Kieran Breen, director of research and development at the Parkinson’s Disease Society, said: “Deep brain stimulation can be very effective in the treatment of some people with Parkinson’s, but it is very invasive to the brain and can cause side effects. This new study suggests that it may be possible to stimulate the nerves in the spine to send an electrical signal up into the brain with a similar effect to that seen in DBS, without being as invasive.”
“These initial studies have been carried out in animals,” he added, “but if they become possible for people with Parkinson’s, it could greatly increase the range of treatment options available for the condition. An operation of this kind would cost significantly less than DBS, so is likely to be more widely available.”
- The Zimbabwean government is a ‘positive’ model of how to hyper-inflate the economy and engineer a successful monetary collapse. Not that they are a bunch of geniuses, any idiot with half a functioning brain should be able to destroy the economy. Makes you wonder what kind of idiots we have in government. Soon we will have United States of ZimbAmerica.
- XinHua reports :
The Zimbabwean government has chosen the rand as the country’s reference currency but will not randify the economy, local media said.
Speaking at the launch of the Short-Term Economic Recovery Program (STERP) on Thursday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the government had chosen the rand because South Africa was Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and the most competitive country for assessing prices and wages.
“Given the United States dollar price structure we are starting with, and the impossibility of restoring competitiveness through currency devaluation when we are using foreign currencies, it is important that we link ourselves to a currency that is more proximate to us,” said the minister.
The choice of the currency was determined by economic factors as well as the future intention of SADC to adopt a common currency, which inevitably will have to be based on the rand given the dominance of the South African economy in the region.
Opting for the rand as the reference currency should in no way reduce Government’s commitment to multiple currency use, the minister said.
“It is, however, the first step in anticipating an epoch when we can resume use of the Zimbabwe dollar,” he said. It was, nonetheless, necessary to first restore the multi-currency economy to a reasonable and sustainable level of activity.
“STERP, responding to the hyper-inflationary environment, will permit use of multiple currencies for all business transactions, including stock exchange trading, sale of agricultural commodities and payment of salaries.
“All taxes will, therefore, be paid in foreign currency,” the minister said. The government adopted a multiple currency trading system last month where the rand, the U.S. dollar and Botswana pula operate as legal tender alongside the Zimbabwean dollar.
The US dollar and the rand have, however, been the two major currencies in use in the country. The move was part of efforts to achieve economic liberalisation to pull the economy out of the present challenges.
- Everyone and their dog is talking about the outrageous US$135M AIG bonuses. What they don’t understand is something called: switch and bait. The MSM seems awfully righteous, blaring away about these bonuses.
- But what is the real problem? What is the major con job that is under way? This ‘bonus’ issue is just a distraction to hide what is really going on. Where are the US$ 183B disappearing to? Get it?
Prof. Michael Hudson opines :
It may seem odd, but the public outrage against $135 million in AIG bonuses is a godsend to Wall Street, AID scoundrels included. How can the media be so preoccupied with the discovery that there is self-serving greed to be found in the financial sector? Every TV channel and every newspaper in the country, from right to left, have made these bonuses the lead story over the past two days.
What is wrong with this picture? Is there not something over-inflated about the outrage led most vociferously by Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Barney Frank, the two leading shills for the bank giveaways over the past year? And does Pres. Obama perhaps find it convenient that finally, at long last, he has been able to criticize something that he believes Wall Street has done wrong? Even the Wall Street Journal has gotten into the act. The government’s takeover of AIG, it pointed out, “uses the firm as a conduit to bail out other institutions.” So much more greed is involved than just that of AIG employees. The firm owed much more to other players – abroad as well as on Wall Street – than the assets it had. That is what drove it to insolvency. And popular opposition has been rising to how Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain could have banded together to support the bailout that, in retrospect, amounts to trillions and trillions of dollars thrown “down the drain.” Not really down the drain at all, of course – but given to financial speculators on the winning “smart” side of AIG’s bad financial gambles.
The Washington crowd wants to focus on bonuses because it aims public anger on private actors,” it accused in a March 17 editorial. But instead of explaining that the shift is away from Wall Street grabbers of a thousand times the amount of bonuses being contested, it blames its usual all-purpose bete noire: Congress. Where the right and left differ is just whom the public should be directing its anger at!Here’s the problem with all the hoopla over the $135 million in AIG bonuses: This sum is only less than 0.1% – one thousandth – of the $183 BILLION that the U.S. Treasury gave to AIG as a “pass-through” to its counterparties. This sum, over a thousand times the magnitude of the bonuses on which public attention is conveniently being focused by Wall Street promoters, did not stay with AIG. For over six months, the public media and Congressmen have been trying to find out just where this money DID go. Bloomberg brought a lawsuit to find out. Only to be met with a wall of silence.
Until finally, on Sunday night, March 15, the government finally released the details. They were indeed highly embarrassing. The largest recipient turned out to be just what earlier financial reporters had said was rumored: Mr. Paulson’s own firm, Goldman Sachs, headed the list. It was owed $13 billion in counterparty claims. So here’s the picture that’s emerging. Last September, Treasury Secretary Paulson, from Goldman Sachs, drew up a terse 3-page memo outlining his bailout proposal. The plan specified that whatever he and other Treasury officials did (thus including his subordinates, also from Goldman Sachs), could not be challenged legally or undone, much less prosecuted. This condition enraged Congress, which rejected the bailout in its first incarnation.
It now looks as if Mr. Paulson had good reason to put in a fatal legal clause blocking any clawback of funds given by the Treasury to AIG’s counterparties. This is where public outrage should be focused.
Instead, the leading Congressional shepherds of the bailout legislation – along with Mr. Obama, who came out in his final, Friday night presidential debate with Sen. McCain strongly in favor of the bailout in Mr. Paulson’s awful “short” version – have been posing as conspicuously as possible for the media to cover a deflected target – the AIG executives receiving bonuses, not the company’s counterparties.
There are two questions that one always must ask when a political operation is being launched. First, qui bono? Who benefits? And second, why now? In my experience, timing almost always is the key to figuring out the dynamics at work.
Regarding qui bono, what does Sen. Schumer, Rep. Frank, Pres. Obama and other Wall Street sponsors gain from this public outcry? For starters, it depicts them as hard taskmasters of the banking and financial sector, not its lobbyists carrying water for one giveaway after another. So the AIG kafuffle has muddied the water about where their political loyalties really lie. It enables them to strike a misleading pose – and hence to pose as “honest brokers” next time they dishonestly give away the next few trillion dollars to their major sponsors and campaign contributors.
Regarding the timing, I think I have answered that above. Talking about AIG bonuses has effectively distracted attention from the AIG counterparties who received the $183 billion in Treasury giveaways. The “final” sum to be given to its counterparties has been rumored to be $250 billion, do Sen. Schumer, Rep. Frank and Pres. Obama still have a lot more work to do for Wall Street in the coming year or so.
To succeed in this work – while mitigating the public outrage already rising against the bad bailouts – they need to strike precisely the pose that they’re striking now. It is an exercise in deception.
The moral should be: The wetter the crocodile tears shed over giving bonuses to AIG individuals (who seem to be largely on the healthy, bona fide insurance side of AIG’s business, not its hedge-fund Ponzi-scheme racket), the more they will distract public attention from the $180 billion giveaway, and the better they can position themselves to give away yet more government money (Treasury bonds and Federal Reserve deposits) to their favorite financial charities.
Debbie Morgan writes in AIG is a Legal Money-laundering Ring :
It was reported by several outlets that AIG, after receiving $170 billion-plus in taxpayer-funded bailout money, is paying “bills.” Some of those “bills” were in the form of bonuses…$168 million in bonuses, to be exact. But, the most disgusting “bills” paid by AIG, in my opinion, were the ones they paid to Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, CitiGroup, and a few others. Yes the very same companies to which our government (from here on out, I will use the term lightly, as it doesn’t seem able to “govern” anything!) took the liberty of bailing out, along WITH AIG…
That is, AIG paid, according to a report meant for transparency, Goldman Sachs $12.9 billion, Merrill Lynch $6.8 billion, Bank of America $5.2 billion, Wachovia $1.5 billion, Morgan Stanley $1.2 billion, JP Morgan $400 million, among others. The funny thing about this is that ALL these institutions also received bailout money from the “government,” as well, so they have now received a double dose!Please tell me I am not the only one to find this utterly appalling!Enough is enough!
On top of that, AIG paid several foreign banks, as well. France’s Societe Generale received a whopping $11.9 billion, Deutsche Bank in Germany received nearly that at $11.8 billion. Barclays of England faired well at $7.9 billion and the Swiss UBS received $5 billion, among others…so, our much-needed money is going overseas! Now, granted, it was the dim-witted US financial institutions that caused the global meltdown, but come on!
Add to that, AIG paid itself $2.5 billion, and it paid AIG International $600 million. Now, before we go too much farther, technically speaking Maiden Lane III paid AIG the $2.5 billion, as well as portions of the other payouts, but Maiden Lane III was set up for AIG by the New York Federal Reserve office to handle AIG business…so…the way I see it, they are the same company!